While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »

ROSSER, THOMAS LAFAYETTE

Thomas W. Cutrer

ROSSER, THOMAS LAFAYETTE (1836–1910). Thomas Lafayette Rosser, Confederate Army officer, was born on October 15, 1836, in Campbell County, Virginia, the son of John and Martha Melvina (Johnson) Rosser. In 1849 the family moved to a 640-acre farm in Panola County, Texas, some forty miles west of Shreveport, Louisiana. As his father was compelled by business to remain for a while in Virginia, Tom Rosser, at age thirteen, led the wagon train bearing his mother and younger siblings to Texas. For four years he attended the Mount Enterprise school in Rusk County. Upon the nomination of Congressman Lemuel D. Evans, Rosser entered the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1856; he resigned on April 22, 1861, only two weeks before graduation, when Texas left the Union. Among his fellows in the class of 1861 was George A. Custer, who graduated dead last in a field of thirty-four cadets.

Rosser was commissioned a first lieutenant in the regular Confederate States Army and assigned as an instructor of artillery. He commanded a company of the New Orleans Washington Artillery battalion at the first battle of Manassas (Bull Run) and was wounded at the battle of Mechanicsville. He returned to the army after recovering and was appointed colonel and commander of the Fifth Virginia Cavalry at the instigation of Gen. James E. B. (Jeb) Stuart. Rosser was promoted to brigadier general on September 28, 1863, and given command of one of Stuart's divisions. He was given command of the Confederate cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley in October 1864 and promoted to major general on November 1. In 1865 he rejoined Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg and took part in the Appomattox campaign. Refusing to surrender, he cut his way out of the federal lines and attempted to lead his division to a junction with the army of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina. He was intercepted and captured, however, and paroled in May. After the war he returned to Virginia, where he became chief engineer of the Northern Pacific and Canadian Pacific railroads. He later became a planter in Charlottesville. On June 10, 1898, President William McKinley appointed Rosser a brigadier general of United States volunteers for the Spanish-American War. He was honorably discharged on October 31, 1898. He died at Charlottesville on March 29, 1910, and is buried at Ridgeview Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Millard Kessler and Dean McKoin Bushong, Fightin' Tom Rosser, C.S.A. (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Beidel Printing, 1983). Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1903; rpt., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965). Jon L. Wakelyn, Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1977). Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, "ROSSER, THOMAS LAFAYETTE," accessed August 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/froct.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...